by Mac Christie Flamborough Review
Officers with the Hamilton Police Service went over crime stats for Ward 15 at a public meeting Nov. 14. – John Rennison , The Hamilton Spectator file photo
The Hamilton Police told Flamborough residents the area has low crime at a community meeting at Harry Howell Arena.
The Nov. 14 meeting, hosted by Ward 15 Coun. Judi Partridge, brought Division 3 Insp. Dave Hennick, crime manager Sgt. Brad Clark and school liaison officer Const. Frank Stones face-to-face with about a dozen residents to share crime statistics.
The presentation broke down the five major crime indicators the police report to Statistics Canada — break and enter, robbery (any theft with violence), commercial robbery, theft of vehicle and theft from vehicle.
The officers are based out of Division 3, which encompasses Flamborough and the Mountain and makes up 53 per cent of the city. Specifically within Ward 15, there are 27,675 residents, making up 5 per cent of the city’s total and 10 per cent of the Division 3 footprint.
Hennick said while the police do not disclose how many officers are in Flamborough — or any specific area over a 24-hour basis — based on the numbers he believes there is an adequate number of officers patrolling Flamborough.
“Could we use more? Absolutely, we could in every community,” he said. “With more resources you could do more, always.
“But I think what’s been shown here … is that we don’t have the crime level in this community to support or require further police resources focused on this area or the people in this area at this time.”
In breaking down the numbers, Hennick said in 2019 to date, Ward 15 has seen 26 residential break-and-enters, seven at businesses and two in the other category — which could mean a shed not attached to a house.
He said of the 26 residential break-ins, 17 of them were due to criminals gaining access to houses with garage door openers taken from unlocked vehicles.
However, he said there were two break-and-enter sprees in the ward — one in May and one in August.
In the May spree, police arrested a 16-year-old male who was breaking into homes in Ancaster and Waterdown and using a stolen vehicle to get to and from crime scenes. Hennick said police were originally thrown off by the use of the vehicle, as they believed young people were involved and although the crimes used the same modus operandi there was a large distance between them.
He noted the arrest in that case was made by the BEAR unit, which works in plainclothes. Hennick added police have seen a gradual increase city-wide over the last 18 months of break-ins where thieves use garage door openers to enter houses.
“The explanation for some of those numbers is the unlocked vehicles and the access to the garage door openers,” he said.
In August, Hennick said there was a similar set of cases where police identified two youth they believe were responsible, but didn’t have the evidence to charge them.
When it comes to robbery, which is theft with violence, Hennick said Flamborough has seen no residential robberies in 2019, one street robbery and one commercial robbery.
“Extremely, extremely low,” he said of the numbers, which represent 0.7 per cent of robberies in the city and 3.1 per cent across the division. “You guys are really living in arguably one of the safest communities in this city with one of the lowest crime rates.”
When it comes to theft of vehicles, Hennick said the numbers have been fairly consistent from 2016 to 2019.
2016 saw 40 thefts, while 2017 saw 37 stolen vehicles, 33 in 2018 and 2019 to date has seen 33.
Hennick said recently police made a significant arrest in Waterdown, arresting two adult males and recovering three stolen trucks.
“We have further work to do on that, but what we’re seeing is there’s a crime trend in this area and (it’s) starting to spread to other areas of the city, where they’re targeting Ford F250s.”
Police could not provide any further information about the arrests, citing an open investigation.
In terms of thefts from vehicles, Hennick said there were 68 year to date in 2019, but in 85 per cent of cases, there was no damage. As a result, that often indicates the vehicle was not locked, he said.
That number is down from the past two years, with 89 reported in 2018 and 75 in 2017.
“I think this number is low,” Hennick said of this year’s numbers. “These thefts from vehicles happen a lot more than are reported to us.
“I would encourage you to please report them to us.”
He said the numbers represent 10 per cent of those thefts reported in the division and three per cent of the city.
In terms of calls for service, Hennick said there were 75,184 calls for service across the city, 23,491 across the division and 1,558 in Ward 15 — or 2.1 per cent of the calls city-wide.
He said in 2018 the numbers were roughly the same, as 1,739 of the 89,258 calls for service across Hamilton came from Flamborough.
“For me, it reiterates how safe the community is that you are living in,” he said.
Hennick said unfortunately calls for domestic violence or family crime continue to be the police service’s most common call. In Flamborough, the numbers bear that out, as there were 107 domestic calls and 57 for family trouble. Meanwhile, the next highest amount is 128 calls for motor vehicle accidents.
The next most common were 91 for suspicious persons, 82 for residence or compassionate checks, 78 for noise and 70 for driving complaints.
Hennick said the top 13 of the 24 most common calls aren’t crime-related, but are due to everyday life — such as arguments between couples, people dying of natural causes and people concerned about strangers in their neighbourhood.
While some residents raised concerns about what they felt was a lack of police response to issues at the Fortinos plaza, police said their concerns are very important.
“Not calling us is not the answer,” Hennick said. “It’s really important to call us directly because we want to make sure that we’re giving it the attention it deserves.
“I can assure you that the concerns here in this community are very important to us.”
However, he said the police do use a priority response system, meaning if there is a more serious call, officers may be diverted there first.
Partridge stressed that reporting crimes to police is vital.
“These folks don’t know about it, if you don’t report it,” Partridge said.